Grammys don't negate physical abuse
// JJ Brewis

Rihanna has been on top of the pop charts for nearly a decade, but like many stars, her personal life often comes before her success in the news. Just over three years ago, Rihanna and her then-boyfriend, fellow musician Chris Brown, both missed the Grammy Awards after a physical altercation between the two. The altercation involved Brown punching, biting, and verbally threatening Rihanna’s life while he was driving a car with her as the passenger. Rihanna was left with bruises all over her face, and images of her black eye and split lip spread all over media outlets. At the time, Rihanna, fresh off the success of her feel good hit “Umbrella”, was America’s sweetheart, and the public rightfully took her side in the scandal.

The dust has settled a bit, and everyone has a voice in the debate about Brown’s relentless celebrity which has, in the voice of adversity, managed to not only sustain, but thrive. Marking a three-year benchmark to his beating offense, Brown appeared at this year’s Grammy Awards, arguably the music business’ biggest showcase. Not only did he perform twice in the evening, but Brown took home the statue for Best R&B album, a prestige that has been bestowed upon such luminaries as Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill in its time. Brown’s behaviour may not relay in his recorded work, but the fact of the matter remains that he’s still an abuser; a fact that the public is being swayed to forget.

On paper, Brown was charged with six months of community service, five years of probation, and sent to domestic violence counselling. But has Brown’s lesson been learned?

Moments after winning his Grammy awards, Brown took to his Twitter page, writing, “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ [sic] I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That’s the ultimate FUCK OFF!” It’s clear that Brown, despite some support from the Grammy committee, has not quite learned his lesson.

Brown’s violent history includes an angry outburst in 2011 in which Brown stormed out of a Good Morning America segment after being asked about Rihanna. He threw a chair through a window, ripped his shirt off, and left the scene. That day, Brown wrote on his Twitter account,

“I’m so over people bringing this past sh-t up!!!”

Chris Brown may be angry and violent, but he is not stupid. He knows he royally endangered his reputation and his career, yet he doesn’t address this by being humble or apologetic; he still turns to anger. Even weeks ago Brown made news by allegedly flipping out on a woman who took a photo of him outside a club. Brown snatched her iPhone and drove away shouting the words, “Bitch, you’re not putting that on the Internet!”

Were Brown actually remorseful, he would take a public stand to admit his fault in hopes of swaying the public into understanding that it was a mistake and an isolated incident. Brown could have used his Grammy platform as a chance to say, “Hey, I fucked up, I’m sorry. I am working on becoming a better person. I don’t condone domestic violence.” It would have been a good start. But Brown squandered his chance and continues to do so.

Recording Academy President Neil Portnow defended the inclusion of Brown, saying, “If we’re going to get in trying to personally evaluate artists in terms of their personal lives, that’s a slippery slope that we wouldn’t want to get into.”

This cop-out of a response is complete bullshit. A particularly intriguing coincidence was the juxtaposition of the tributes to the late Whitney Houston, a notable sufferer of domestic violence, placed in between segments of Brown, the abuser.

In a shocking twist, Rihanna herself appears to be back on the Brown bandwagon, personally inviting him to appear on a remix of her new single “Birthday Cake”, in which Brown’s lyrics say, “Girl, I wanna fuck you right now/Been a long time, I’ve been missing your body”.

The cycle of abused returning to abuser is not a new story. A major roadblock for many victims of domestic abuse is the fact that they are often drawn to the person doing the damage to them. Last week, Rihanna showed some strange side effects, as she responded to some backlash of fans and media questioning her return to Brown. Rihanna attempted to turn the criticism back on a few of her own fans, asking her fan club “Rihanna’s Navy” to cyber-bully some of those questioning her decision.

Despite all the pro-Brown rallying, a few voices of reason have spoken. During the broadcast, country singer Miranda Lambert tweeted, “Chris Brown [performing] Twice? I don’t get it. He beat on a girl … Not cool that we act like that didn’t happen”. Additionally, WWE wrestler CM Punk has challenged Chris Brown to duke it out over the matter. This may be a publicity stunt, but the issue of abuse seems to be a sore spot, as Punk also took to Twitter, revealing, “I would like Chris Brown [to] fight somebody that can defend themselves. Me curb stomping that turd would be a Wrestlemania moment.”

Despite the obvious problematic “violence for violence” rationale coming into play, Punk has a point when he gets to the root of the cause. Brown has not made an honest point in showing us that he’s changed, learned, or grown. As Punk says, “Picking up trash on the side of a highway does not make amends for repeatedly striking a woman to her face and sending her to a hospital.”

//JJ Brewis, art director
//Graphics by Shannon Elliott

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